Now every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. Luke 2:41-52
Just a note. The boy Jesus did not stay in that Temple. In fact, if you follow the story throughout the Gospel of Luke, you will find Jesus spending most of his time in places other than a place of worship. You will find him on a hillside feeding a crowd of hungry people, where his disciples say, “Let’s move on, what can we hope to do among so many hungry folks?” And he responds to them the same way he did to his parents, “Didn’t you know, I need to be here?” You will find him eating with sinners, touching lepers, healing the sick, forgiving the ones no one else would forgive, while the people said again and again, “What are you doing? Why are you so concerned about such people?” And he answers, “Didn’t you know, I need to be here?” In Luke’s Gospel, you will find Jesus face to face with his enemies, forgiving those who tortured him and hanging on a Cross. And as his followers and foes alike look on him with growing questions and disbelief, he says, “Didn’t you know? I need to be here.”
I need to be here in such places, Jesus teaches, because this is where God stands. And when people come looking for me, I want them to know that I can be found in God’s house. And I can be found among the hungry and those needing to be healed. And I can be found toe-to-toe in those encounters with my enemies and in the experience of suffering and death. I can be found on hillsides, lakesides, streetsides, bedsides, in your homes, in your church and where you work. I need to be in such places, Jesus taught us, because that’s where God’s people are. That’s the view we have looking out the windows on our world, and we need to know that He is with us. Standing on the unmerited love of God. Standing on the unmerited, free gift of life. Standing on God’s Word, uttered from the first moments of creation until now.
Following yet another Christmas and entering another new year, times it seems that many of us are given to a little more reflection and introspection than usual, I ask you, do you know where you stand? In your own seeking after Jesus, or searching for meaning, truth, or purpose, do you know what supports you and holds you up? When you consider the view out the windows of your life at this moment in time, do you know where you stand? And do you know the One who stands with you?
And in those days when your faith is such that you feel like Mary and Joseph frantically trying to find the son they fear they have lost, do you know where to go to find Jesus? Perhaps a good place to start is in those places he said he must be.